Letter from Elias Higbee, 20 February 1840–A
, Letter, , to JS, [, Hancock Co., IL?], 20 Feb. 1840. Featured version copied [between Apr. and June 1840] in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 97–100; handwriting of ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 2.
While in on 20 February 1840, wrote two letters to JS. This first letter of the day commenced a series of seven extant letters written over the course of several weeks apprising JS of the actions of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, which was considering the ’s memorial to Congress. Higbee was the only member of the church’s delegation to the federal government present in Washington DC at this time and was the sole representative of the church before the committee. On 28 January, Senator of presented the church’s memorial to the Senate. The Senate then tabled the memorial until 12 February, when it was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration. In this letter, Higbee provided a detailed account of his testimony at a special meeting of the committee that he had requested, at which he explained that many of the difficulties in occurred because of church members’ religious beliefs. Based on Senate records, on Higbee’s account of the hearing, and on the report the committee created in response to the memorial, it appears that the committee was supposed to first determine whether the case fell under the jurisdiction of Congress before judging the memorial’s merits.presumably sent this letter by post to , Illinois, where JS would have received it after he returned from on or before 29 February 1840. The concluding line of the letter suggests that Higbee expected JS to share the letter’s contents with the Saints in Commerce and . The original letter is not extant. copied the version featured here into JS Letterbook 2 sometime between April and June 1840.
JS left the capital for Illinois shortly after the church’s memorial was presented to the Senate on 28 January 1840. Sidney Rigdon was ill in Philadelphia when Higbee wrote this letter and remained there until he left for New Jersey on 5 March 1840. (Historian’s Office, JS History, Draft Notes, 14 Jan. 1840, 2; Letter from Elias Higbee, 9 Mar. 1840.)
Memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, ca. 30 Oct. 1839–27 Jan. 1840; Journal of the Senate of the United States, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., 28 Jan. and 12 Feb. 1840, 138, 173; Congressional Globe, 26th Cong., 1st Sess., p. 149 (1840).
Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Being the First Session of the Twenty-Sixth Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Washington, December 2, 1839, and in the Sixty-Fourth Year of the Independence of the Said United States. Washington DC: Blair and Rives, 1839.
The Congressional Globe, Containing Sketches of the Debates and Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Congress. Vol. 8. Washington DC: Blair and Rives, 1840.
Letter from Elias Higbee, 22 Feb. 1840; Historical Introduction to Memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, ca. 30 Oct. 1839–27 Jan. 1840; Report of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 4 Mar. 1840.
John Smith, Journal, 1836–1840, 29 Feb. 1840, .
Smith, John (1781-1854). Journal, 1833–1841. John Smith, Papers, 1833-1854. CHL. MS 1326, box 1, fd. 1.
Coray, Autobiographical Sketch, 17, 19.
Coray, Howard. Autobiographical Sketch, after 1883. Howard Coray, Papers, ca. 1840–1941. Photocopy. CHL. MS 2043, fd. 1.